Forest Park falls 43-41 in semifinals

KENNESAW - It was bound to happen with the only question being how would Forest Park handle a run by Southwest DeKalb in the Class AAAAA semifinals on Saturday.

Forest Park couldn't handle a late second-half rally by Southwest as the Lady Panthers fell 43-41 at Kennesaw State University. Southwest ended the game on a 22-10 run to send them to the finals for the second straight season, its first on the Class AAAAA level.

“They are a good team, we couldn't withstand their comeback,” Forest Park coach Steven Cole said. “We had a chance to win, but we couldn't finish.”

Darsian DeShaizer hit a short jumper with 34 seconds left to give Soutwest a 41-39 lead for good. Southwest would extend its lead to 43-40 with 16 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws form Daisa Alexander.

Forest Park could only manage a pair of free throws – one each from I'mani Richards and Kanisha Tharpe in the last 19 seconds of the game. The Lady Panthers last field goal in the game came on a layup from Breasia McElrath with 1:58 remaining as Southwest lead 39-38.

Forest Park seemed to have a comfortable lead for most of the game as junior Kayla Potts was fueling the offense. She finished with 19 points, all in the first three quarters.

Southwest employed a trapping defense each time Potts got the ball in the second quarter.

“We were just trying to limit her possessions,” Southwest coach Kathy Walton said.

Potts didn't play in the earlier matchup between the two teams, which Southwest won on its homecourt by 32 points.

Potts had 12 points in the first half as the Lady Panthers lead 30-25 at halftime.

She had seven in the third quarter, but went scoreless in the final period.

“They switched the defense on us,” Potts said.

With the return of all but one player, the Lady Panthers will be favored to make another long playoff run.

“We are expected to be back,” Cole said.